Community Foundation for Mississippi Eyes Growth

Published 10:38 am Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Four New Hires Added to Advance Organization’s Mission

JACKSON, MS – With more than $80 million in investment assets, the Community Foundation for Mississippi (CFM) announces the hiring of four key personnel to enhance operations, strengthen strategic planning to support stakeholder’s grantees and position for growth to continue its mission of making meaningful change to Mississippi.

The new hires include:

  • Cynthia Buchanan, Vice President of Operations
  • Ken Wiandt, Director of Finance
  • Melody Moody Thortis, Director of Strategic Impact
  • Sandy Quinn, Administrative Assistant

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They join Jane Alexander, President and CEO, and Theresa Erickson, Vice President of Philanthropy, as part of CFM core team tasked with enhancing CFM’s operations and services to support community foundations across the state, to meet community needs while implementing the giving priorities of generous donors. CFM will continue its history of support and coordination with the nonprofit community.

“The Community Foundation for Mississippi is truly excited to add these seasoned, community-driven members to our team,” said Will Crossley, board chair. “They come to our organization from a variety of endeavors and will bring new, fresh ideas and thinking that will help us to continue our strong growth and achieve our mission of bringing positive change to our state.”

Buchanan, in her role as vice president of operations, will work closely with Alexander to coordinate all Foundation functions. For the past 15 years she served as executive vice president of the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership and promoted businesses and a better quality of life in the community. She provided strategic leadership and coordinated community-wide activities and was charged with overseeing a 30-member Board of Directors. She earned degrees in Bachelor of Business Administration and Marketing, and Master of Business Administration, from Jackson State University.

Wiandt brings to the CFM more than 25 years of experience in accounting with not-for-profit and heath care organizations, including 21 as a director. A licensed Certified Public Accountant, he joins CFM from Reformed Theological Seminary where he has worked for 24 years. He coordinated and monitored an investment portfolio of approximately $100 million, oversaw key monthly reports concerning gifts and tuition and enhanced the organization’s financial reporting package. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Union University and a Master of Arts in Christian Education from Reformed Theological Seminary.

Thortis draws from a wide-ranging wealth of related work experience in her role as Director of Strategic Impact. She has conducted more than 100 workshops, been engaged in strategic planning for 16 years and worked in fundraising and grants for 16 years. Thortis spent the last four years at the Mississippi Arts Commission as Director of Arts Based Community Development and later as Director of Grants. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies and Art at Belhaven University and a Master of Arts in International Development, Advocacy and Human Rights at Eastern University.

Quinn has 10 years of experience in administration and office management in various professional environments. She served as an Assistant Director for Early Childhood and an after-school program for seven years. She attended Belhaven University and Jackson State University.

The four new employees will work closely with Alexander and Erickson. Alexander has served as President and CEO for nearly 10 years, and during that time the Community Foundation has tripled its assets. Erickson joined CFM in January 2020 as Vice President for Philanthropy, and previously served in executive leadership at Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi and The Pinebelt Foundation.

“Our team is well rounded, experienced in strategic planning and finance and understands the importance of working together to benefit all of our stakeholders,” said Alexander. “They are committed to working for the betterment of our community and our generous donors who want to make a meaningful impact on Mississippi. The Foundation conducted a thorough and exhaustive search to find the right person to fill each of these critical positions, and believe we have the team to achieve unparalleled success and create lasting good.”

About Community Foundation for Mississippi

Community Foundation for Mississippi serves donors who establish charitable giving funds. Grants awarded by these funds support the work of charitable, educational, and religious organizations important to them. CFM strengthens nonprofit partners and local nonprofit organizations by holding and managing their endowments to build sustainability. CFM supports the development and improvement of the communities it serves, holding over 270 charitable funds and endowments. These funds have invested more than $55.7 million in grants over the past 25 years.